Having a rough day? Need to blow off a little steam? Well, maybe you should go to Planet Fuck You, and work out your demons. You ever consider that? Because developer E-Studio did, and with that premise they brought us Tormentor X Punisher, a twin-stick shooter that exhumes raw aggression and expresses itself with high-octane, non-stop brutality.
NEVER. STOP. SHOOTING.
At first glance, Tormentor X Punisher has all the trappings of a game trying too hard to be edgy; bloody corpses, putrid demons, your character’s ceaseless taunts and swearing, and a Liquid Television-style animated intro featuring most of the above. Everything dies in one hit, the player included. Every round of play starts with the protagonist screaming at the top of her lungs, “LET’S FUCKING DO THIS!” It is a lot to take in. But what keeps Tormentor X Punisher from being an eye-rolling cringe-fest, is that it’s all done with zealous conviction in service of the game’s overall tone, THE gameplay included. And therein lies its brilliance.
The aggression, though comical in how over-the-top it is, remains consistent and doesn’t let up. It is the game’s currency and encourages and rewards aggression. You’re given the opportunity to stop enemies from spawning by running over their glowing pentagram for a small score, or you can let them spawn and kill them for a reward 14 times greater. I mean, you reload your assault rifle by firing your shotgun; if that doesn’t say “I’m here expressly to ruin shit,” I don’t know what does.
And it feels awesome! Enemies spawn faster and in greater numbers as time goes on, without a hitch in framerate. Bosses will spawn at seemingly random intervals and add traps and obstacles to the stage, causing you to rethink your next move. You improve your character with perks not by leveling up, but instead by performing specific kill conditions (of which, I won’t spoil here; finding them is half the fun.) All of this is set to a death-metal soundtrack that just makes you want to splatter more demons, and climb ranks on the leaderboards.
This is Golem. He’ll build walls, no matter who they crush.
That being said, the game can burn its candle from both ends. Every action causes on-screen onomatopoeia, every death causes the screen to shake – E-Studio was kind enough to include an adjustable “shake” setting – which compounded with the sheer volume of things onscreen, it’s easy to lose track of what’s going on. While the player can spend hours trying to figure out how to unlock the different character perks, and finding all bosses, it can feel like you’ve seen everything the game has to offer fairly quickly; there’s only one mode, and it’s a score attack, which might wear thin to those hoping for something outside of a frenetic arcade shooter.
I’m not going to lie: Tormentor X Punisher is a breath of fresh air. It may not be incredibly robust, but it has a surprising and delightful amount of gameplay depth beneath it’s metal-as-hell veneer. It’s a distilled savagery with a shrewd understanding of fast, unrelenting action, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fast and satisfyingly vicious arcade experience.